David Oke
Anglesea, 1984 and 2010

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Anglesea – Victoria. The population is about 2500 but swells to about 10,000 over summer. It’s famous for beaches, kangaroos on the golf course and being a very popular coastal holiday destination.

Brian Cadd, the elder statesman of Australian rock and roll piano playing, said that he played his first professional gig at the Anglesea surf club back in the 1960s. In the farewell performance of Crowded House on the steps of the Sydney Opera House in 1996, Paul Hester gives a shout out to Anglesea. More recently band members from King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, Forever Son and Jarrow all have connections with Anglesea. Back in the late 1970s I had one of my first public music performances there too.

From late 1978 to late 1986 I was on a ‘beach mission’ team called THEOS. Run by a Christian organization called Scripture Union we regularly set up a coffee shop, initially in the old corrugated iron scout hall near the camping ground. The purpose was to provide a safe alternative to the pub, to share some conversation, provide refreshments and perhaps share a little of our beliefs with people who were interested. The overhead netting, smell of raisin toast, sea grass matting and the salt air on a warm summer evening provided a good backdrop to the nightly live musical entertainment. THEOS had also set up at other nearby resort towns such as Lorne, Queenscliff and Torquay, our rival neighbor (give or take 20 kilometres).

My first performance, back in ’78, was to provide some guitar accompaniment to a young lady singing John Denver’s Country Road. We used to get big crowds in every night for the ten days, from just after Christmas till early January. It was a popular meeting place. There was a great vibe.

We were careful in selecting music that had appropriate messages in the lyrics. There was lots of Neil Young, James Taylor, Dylan, Cat Stevens and a smattering of gospel too. We always tried to include something from the popular charts.

In about 1984 one of our favorites was Goanna’s Razor’s Edge. The melancholy, but crisp, guitar introduction and sentiment in the lyrics about being careful with life decision-making and not living dangerously, matched our philosophy. It was an appropriate song and Goanna was an almost local act. Shane Howard, the main songwriter and lead singer, was a couple of years ahead of me at Deakin University studying education. Goanna’s Spirit Of Place album was very well known.

Got a letter from Davie just the other day
‘nd the note just read, “Please come to Byron Bay”
Well the heart says ‘Go’ ‘nd the head says ‘Stay’
‘nd the big wheels just keep turnin’ everyday…

Don’t go livin’ on a razor’s edge
Or tryin’ to touch the sun
‘Cause you’ll just fall for that same old trick again –

There has always been a bit of rivalry between Anglesea and the neighbouring town Torquay. I think that it is more than the local netball, football and lawn-bowls competitive spirit.

Torquay is ‘flashy’, bigger, has the shire council offices, lots of surf shops, restaurants and sure gets more attention at Easter when the Bells Beach surf carnival is on. Anglesea people pride themselves on the facts that it has maintained a ‘small-town’ and close-knit community feel, it has a natural beauty and ‘bush meets the sea’ character that Torquay has lost and has many attractive visible natural features such as kangaroos, wildflowers, ducks on the river and parrots. As Anglesea is land locked by the sea, national park, reserves and camping grounds there are fewer opportunities to reside there.

Taking all this into account, you can see why the third verse was always our favourite:

‘Lulu’s too tired of living down beside Torquay
She’s getting herself together financially….’

When singing the song at THEOS we would always, in our tongue in cheek style, change the lyric to:

‘Lulu’s too tired of living down beside Torquay
She’s getting herself together to come to Anglesea …’

That always got a laugh.

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Roll on about thirty years to 2010. Every year the Anglesea Music Festival had a name artist to finish off the weekend proceedings on the Sunday arvo: Joe Camilleri, Ross Wilson, Brian Cadd… But the first one, in 2010, was Shane Howard.

In the crowded marquee my friends and I stood shoulder to shoulder not too far from the stage listening to some great songs from the Shane Howard Band, anticipating that he would perform Razor’s Edge. My friends had always enjoyed our colloquial change of lyric.

When Razor’s Edge commenced we looked at each other and sang along. In the third verse our singing got louder and our hand gestures got Shane Howard’s attention. He smiled. Even if he didn’t really hear what we were singing our collective memory of that song and the summer of our younger years sure made us smile too.

© David Oke. More stories by David Oke

 

 

David is a Melbourne musician, music teacher and primary school teacher. His debut Stereo Story was about playing Great Balls of Fire at Sun Studio in Memphis. He has assisted in the organisation, and leading of gospel music workshops and Sunday gospel celebrations at the Anglesea Music Festivals, and is a member of The Seddon Jammers. His son Dan is the creative force of the band Jarrow.